Flaunting The Tempest: From “Insubstantial Pageant” to Celluloid Fresco

  • Chantal Zabus


The queering of a Black Caliban on the postmodern stage as in Philip Osment’s play This Island’s Mine (1988) raises questions about the “postcolonial body.” Indeed, such a body is no longer “an object of the West’s gaze but an imaginable subject enacted in the eroticized space of theatre.”1 In other words, Caliban is no longer where he was supposed to be, that is, on African, Australian, or Caribbean soil, but back in England. Besides, the “pleasures of exile” evoked by Lamming in the quintessentially postcolonial context of the 1960s have now become those of sexual dissidence and truancy.


Atlantic City Compulsive Sexuality Race Issue Greek Island Popular Film 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Susan Bennett, “Rehearsing The Tempest, Directing the Post-Colonial Body: Disjunctive Identity in Philip Osment’s This Island’s Mine,” Essays in Theatre/Etudes théâtrales 15:1 (November 1996), 42.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    John Collick, Shakespeare, Cinema and Society (Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 1989), pp. 102–103. John Collick has argued that Jarman’s version of The Tempest is part of the same artistic tradition as the Shakespeare films of Orson Welles, most notably Othello (1955). But Welles’s Shakespearean oeuvre has little in common with Jarman’s Tempest or any of his other Shakespeare movies, except that both directors can be seen to embody independent movie-making on the periphery of mainstream film production.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Interview with Toyah Willcox in Notebook (containing early treatment notes) by Derek Jarman, British Film Institute Archives, Item # 24, p. 19 & pp. 8–9. The Notebook bears on The Tempest (1979) produced by Guy Ford and Mordecai Schreiber; adapted for the screen by Derek Jarman. For an extensive survey of cuts and changes, see Walter Coppedge, “Derek Jarman’s The Tempest,” in Creative Screenwriting 5:2 (1998), 12–15.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    On the interrelation between postmodernism and cyberpunk, see Veronica Hollinger, “Cybernetic Deconstructions: Cyberpunk and Postmodernism,” Mosaic 23:2 (Spring 1990), 29–43.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    See Jacqueline Latham, “The Tempest and King James’s ‘Daemonologie,’” Shakespeare Survey 28 (1975), 117–23; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Frances A. Yates, “Prospero and Some Contemporaries,” in D. J. Palmer, ed., Shakespeare: The Tempest: A Casebook (London: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 175–183. On John Dee, see also Vaughan & Vaughan, p. 82. Jarman describes John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica as symbolizing both “the unity of spirit and matter” in Dancing Ledge (London: Quartet Books, 1984), p. 88.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    See A. Lynne Magnusson, “Interruption in The Tempest,” Shakespeare Quarterly 37:1 (Spring 1986), 52–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 13.
    In David Suchet, “Caliban in The Tempest,” in Philip Brockbank, ed., Players of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 171 & p. 179.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    See Paul Brown, p. 58. On class-consciousness in Renaissance England, see Christopher Hill, “The Many-Headed Monster in Late Tudor and Early Stuart Political Thinking” in From the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. Essays in Honor of Garrett Mattingly, ed., Charles H. Carter (New York, 1965), pp. 296–324.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    “Heterosoc” is “heterosexual society” in Derek Jarman, At Your Own Risk. A Saint’s Testament (London: Vintage, 1993).Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    Most notably, Sonnets 27, 29, 30, 43, 53, 55, 56, 57, 61, 90, 94, 104, 126, 148. “In The Angelic Conversation, he wanted to restore the feminine element sometimes lacking in gay films, and so made a beautifully poetic film conjuring up the romantic feelings between two young men on a summer afternoon. It was even accused of ‘coming close to a homosexual version of heterosexual kitsh’—an unfair comment more appropriate for Sebastiane.” In Jonathan Hacker and David Price, Take 10. Contemporary British Directors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 236.Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    See Shepherd, p. 96; and Vaughan & Vaughan, pp. 177–221. See also Carl Miller, Stages of Desire: Gay Theatre’s Hidden History (London: Cassell, 1996), pp. 125–136 (on Antonio).Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    See Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare’s England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.102–104; andGoogle Scholar
  14. Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (London: Routledge, 1992), esp. p. 32.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    Wayne R. Dynes, “Camp,” in Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, ed. Wayne R. Dynes (New York: Garland, 1990), p. 189. For a history of the development of gay camp, seeGoogle Scholar
  16. Michael Bronski, Culture Clash: the Making of Gay Sensibility (Boston: South End Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  17. 27.
    For more detail, see Sue-Ellen Case, “Toward a Butch-Femme Aesthetic,” in Making a Spectacle: Feminist Essays on Contemporary Women’s Theatre (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1989), pp. 282–299. On drag-queens and interesting etymological speculations on “drag,” seeGoogle Scholar
  18. Judy Grahn, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984), pp. 95–96. Grahn sees the modern drag queen “like the king’s jester without the king, some theatrical combination of the Fool, the Hanged Man, and the Empress all rolled into one and without a true territory.” Grahn sees the very word “drag” as a throwback to slang for “coach” or “cart,” used in early European festivities. In its most historic sense, being “in drag” is a reference to cross-dressing during New Year’s processions when the Fool’s King, a female queen god, or the goat-king Puck was pulled in a cart.Google Scholar
  19. 29.
    Philip Core, Camp: The Lie That Tells the Truth (London: Plexus, 1984), p. 9.Google Scholar
  20. 30.
    Martyn Auty, “The Tempest,” Monthly Film Bulletin 47:555 (April 1980), 78–79.Google Scholar
  21. 32.
    Kate Davy, “Felmale Impersonation: The Discourse of Camp,” Critical Theory and Performance, eds. Janelle G. Reinelt and Joseph R. Roach (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1992), p. 245. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  22. Peter Ackroyd, Transvestism and Drag: the History of an Obsession (London: Thames & Hudson, 1979).Google Scholar
  23. 35.
    Honey Glass, “Queer,” Sight and Sound 10 (1997), 38.Google Scholar
  24. 40.
    Paul Mazursky and Leon Capetanos, A Screenplay: Tempest (New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982), p. 9. Hereafter page numbers are indicated in the text.Google Scholar
  25. 42.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1926) (London: Penguin, 1950), p. 171.Google Scholar
  26. 43.
    Raymond Carney, American Dreaming: The Films of John Cassavettes and The American Experience (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), p. 3. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  27. Raymond Carney, The Films of John Cassavettes: Pragmatism, Modernism and the Movies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  28. 45.
    Colin MacCabe, “A Post-National European Cinema: A Consideration of Derek Jarman’s The Tempest and Edward II” in Duncan Petrie, ed., Screening Europe: Image and Identity in Contemporary European Cinema (London: British Film Institute, 1992), p. 9.Google Scholar
  29. 46.
    Jonathan Romney, “Prospero’s Books: Contract Terminated,” Sight and Sound 1:5 (September 1991), 44–45, 45. This feature-film is in the cycle of Greenaway’s more complex endeavors; he claims that by chance he has alternated since The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982) between more straightforward narratives and experimental productions. Prospero’s Books thus appropriately follows on Greenaway’s most straightforward narrative to date, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989). SeeGoogle Scholar
  30. Michel Ciment, “Une conflagration de l’art: Entretien avec Peter Greenaway,” Positif 368 (October 1991), 38.Google Scholar
  31. 51.
    For more detail, see Mariacristina Cavecchi, “Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books: A Tempest Between Word and Image,” Literature/Film Quarterly 25: 2 (1997), 85.Google Scholar
  32. 52.
    Peter Greenaway, Prospero’s Books: A Film of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (London: Chatto & Windus, 1991), p. 49. Peter Greenaway, dir. Prospero’s Books (G.B./NETH./ FRANCE/ ITALY, 1991), Allarts/Camera One/Cinéa/Penta.Google Scholar
  33. 53.
    Timothy Murray, “You Are How You Read: Baroque Chao-errancy in Greenaway and Deleuze,” Iris 23 (Spring 1997), 87–107, 105.Google Scholar
  34. 54.
    Marlene Rodgers, “Prospero’s Books—Word and Spectacle: An Interview with Peter Greenaway,” Film Quarterly 45:2 (Winter 1991–1992), 16. Greenaway’s fascination with water can be observed in, for example, the short subject Making a Splash (1984), Twenty-Six Bathrooms (1985), and Drowning by Numbers (1988). See also Alain Masson, “This Insubstantial Pageant,” Positif368 (October 1991), 37. For a close study of animate painting in Prospero’s Books, seeGoogle Scholar
  35. Laura Denham, The Films of Peter Greenaway (London: Minerva, 1993).Google Scholar
  36. 57.
    Peter Greenaway, Watching Water (Milano: Electa, 1993), p. 84.Google Scholar
  37. 58.
    Eustace Tillyard, Shakespeare’s Last plays (London: The Athlone Press, 1938), p. 149.Google Scholar
  38. 59.
    Qtd in Adam Barker, “A Tale of Two Magicians,” Sight and Sound 1:1 (May 1991), 26–30.Google Scholar
  39. 61.
    Morris Beja, Film and Literature: An Introduction (London: Longman, 1979), p. 44.Google Scholar
  40. 64.
    Maurice Yacowar, “Negotiating Culture: Greenaway’s Tempest,” Queen’s Quarterly 99:3 (Fall 1992), 694. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  41. Claus Schatz-Jacobsen, “‘Knowing I Lov’d My Books’: Shakespeare, Greenaway, and the Prosperous Dialectics of Word and Image,” Screen Shakespeare, ed. Michael Skovmand (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1994), pp. 132–148; andGoogle Scholar
  42. Mariacristina Cavecchi and Nicoletta Vallorani, “Prospero’s Offshoots: From the Library to the Screen,” Shakespeare Bulletin 15: 4 (Fall 1997), 35–37.Google Scholar
  43. 66.
    The phrase is from Nathan Watchel, The Vision of the Vanquished: The Spanish Exploration of Peru through Indian Eyes (1971) (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  44. 67.
    See Peter Holland, “The Shapeliness of The Tempest,” Essays in Criticism 45:3 (1995), 214.Google Scholar
  45. 69.
    See Christian Metz, “The Cinematic Apparatus—an interview with Christian Metz,” Discourse I, p. 14. Qtd in Robert Lapsley & Michael Westlake, Film Theory: An Introduction (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), p.85.Google Scholar
  46. 70.
    Qtd in H. A. Rodman, “Anatomy of a Wizard,” American Film 10 (1991), 38.Google Scholar
  47. 71.
    John Gielgud, An Actor and His Time (85th Birthday Recollections in collaboration with John Miller and John Powell (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1989), p. 202. Henry James was one of the first twentieth-century critics to equate Prospero with Shakespeare in his 1907 introduction to The Tempest. In Cohn, p. 287. On this issue, see, among others,Google Scholar
  48. Allardyce Nicoll, Film and Theatre (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1972) andGoogle Scholar
  49. Catherine Belsey, “Shakespeare and Film: A Question of Perspective,” Literary/Film Quarterly 11:3 (1982), 152. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  50. Peter Conrad, “From a Vigorous Prospero, a Farewell Without Tears,” New York Times 17 (Nov. 1991), 18 andGoogle Scholar
  51. David Gritten, “A Prospero for the Ages,” Los Angeles Times 27 (Nov. 1991), 1.Google Scholar
  52. 74.
    See Bernard Bénoliel, “Peter Greenaway L’illusion comique,” La Revue du Cinéma 475 (1991), 62–69. For a history of Prospero as Shakespeare’s self-representation, seeGoogle Scholar
  53. Michael Dobson, “‘Remember/ First to Possess His Books’: The Appropriation of The Tempest, 1700–1800,” Shakespeare Survey, ed. Stanley Wells, 43 (1991), 99–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Chantal Zabus 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chantal Zabus

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations